About 15 of the Maize Rage showed up to Renaissance on Tuesday to cheer on the home team and specifically, Malik Hairston. Their goal: show Hairston that the fans in Ann Arbor want him to wear the Maize and blue. Decked out in yellow Maize Rage t-shirts, they came with enough chants and enthusiasm that made it impossible for them not to be noticed. (We also noticed Michigan freshman Dion Harris in the crowd). They camped out at the end of the Renaissance home section and were like a Phoenix hype squad the entire game. The were so infectious that after the first minute of the game they had the entire crowd participating in the chant that they break often break out in after Michigan scores. The unison, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” reverberating throughout the gym was hilarious! They followed that up by leading the crowd in “Here we go Phoe-Nix, Here we go!” They cheered every Renaissance basket and every Renaissance player…but the loudest cheers were saved for Hairston.
The Maize Rage
Malik had his game face on as soon as he hit the court and gave everyone plenty to cheer about at the game’s onset. He knocked down the Phoenix’s first 7 points on a 3-pointer, a step jumper, and a stick back on a Joe Crawford miss. The whole Phoenix squad was sharp offensively out of the gate and it seemed like they would just overwhelm CMA. However, this team came out with a gritty determination that kept them in the game. Despite the loud partisan crowd (thanks in large part to the Rage) CMA answered Renaissance at every turn. Up 10-8 midway through the first, Malik added another bucket a minute later on a thunderous baseline dunk. Afterward, the crowd really got involved, breaking out in the “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” chant once more. Other teams that Renaissance has gone up against have crumbled in the face of such a momentum building play, but the Pharaohs calmly came back down the court and nailed a jumper to silence the crowd and stay within 2. They were able to do that the entire quarter and despite 10 points from Hairston and 5 from Crawford they were only down 19-16 at the end of 1.
Malik with the slam!
The will of the visiting team, while admirable, just wasn’t enough to match the superior talent possessed by the Phoenix. Hairston picked up right where he left off in the first by netting another 7 points in the second quarter. Crawford picked up his offensive game in the quarter as well, adding another 10 points to his total, which was capped off with two big time ducks (one coming off of a nasty baseline spin move). The two All-Americans accounted for 17 of the Phoenix’s 23 points in the quarter and helped push the lead to 13 at the half, 42-29.
Malik hangs in the lane for 2
With this being the last home game for the seniors, coach Mark White used halftime to pay tribute to one of the more storied classes to come through the city. With a number of district and regional titles, a PSL title, and a State of Michigan Final Four, the group of Hairston Crawford, Adam Sabree, Korey Johnson, and Marcus Stout were noted by Coach White as the most successful class in Renaissance high school history.
The Phoenix didn’t allow the emotion of the halftime ceremony distract them from the task at hand. Hairston added another 12 points in the second half, highlighted by a facial over a Pharaoh defender, while Crawford added another 9 points. Renaissance outscored CMA 46-30 in the second half on their way to an 88-59 rout. Hairston finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal while Crawford ended with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Senior guards Devon Knight and Jesse Bunkley led CMA with 17 points apiece.
Malik jams over the defender!
One final note on The Maize Rage. The Michigan students ended the game with
the chant, “It’s Great… To be… A Mich-I-Gan Wol-verine!”…
a message that they sure hoped Hairston was listening to!